Imagine the moment. A beautifully composed plate of food comes floating through the dining room on a server's steady arm. It's placed on the table in front of you with a flourish. You grab your phone to snap a couple quick photos for social media, and dig in before the anticipation from your salivating taste buds becomes unbearable.
Next, your senses begin to automatically identify the food's myriad nuances: spicy, sour, sweet; chewy, crispy, creamy. Maybe it evokes a memory — a similar dish prepared for you long ago by a loved one, a special moment in time or place in the world.
Before you know it, the meal is over, your plate wiped nearly clean. You sit back, wipe your mouth, take a sip of water. Your belly is full — perhaps even too full — and soon the check will come, and you'll head home.
At any time during this theoretical meal, or any real dining experience you've had, though, how often does your mind wander beyond the brain signals coming from your eyes, nose, mouth, hands? Do you often wonder just how the food made it from a field or farm or factory to this kitchen, your plate, your belly? What about the countless people whose own hands had a role in that extensive process, no less those of the chef of the restaurant you're in?
These are the sorts of questions and emotions we set out to ask and explore for this year's fall Dining Out issue. We talked to three chefs and one restaurant owner about their personal and professional culinary journeys, their processes for menu and recipe creation, sourcing ingredients and much more. We hope these stories leave you both hungry to eat and hungry to learn more next time you dine at one of the region's multitude of great restaurants.